Gillian reaches final chapter in 39-year career

Libary assistant Gillian Cottam, left, and West Calderdale Libraries team leader Roberta Crossley, right, at Todmorden Library. Gilliam is retiring after 39 years working at the library
Libary assistant Gillian Cottam, left, and West Calderdale Libraries team leader Roberta Crossley, right, at Todmorden Library. Gilliam is retiring after 39 years working at the library

A LIBRARY assistant finished the final chapter in her 39-year career when she retired last week.

Gillian Cottam started working at Todmorden Library as a teenager in 1972 and over the years she became the face many people associate with the library.

“I had just left school and I saw a junior post advertised in the newspaper,” Gillian said. “I used to make tea for everyone and I still do.

“We didn’t have computers when I started - it was just books. It smelt like a proper library.

“We used to have some ladies who came in and dried their washing in the reading room. We have had all sorts of incidents.

“It’s going to be sad to go but things are happening now and I think it’s going to be a bad year for libraries and I didn’t want to be here when that happens.”

Gillian, 55, has many fond memories of her time at the library, including dancing the Gay Gordons around the library at Christmas with former librarian John Lindsey.

She particularly enjoyed organising the regular book sales, the most recent of which raised £600.

“The highlight has been meeting lots of lovely, lovely people and seeing their families come in when they were kids and now they are adults,” she said.

“Now we are serving their children and grand-children.

“I have made some life-long friends with the staff.”

A retirement party was held at the Old Hall at which she was presented with gifts by colleagues.

The library’s resident poet, Glenys Halliday, wrote some special verses to mark Gillian’s retirement.

“Thanks to all the people who come to the library for being so nice,” Gillian said. “Thanks for all the cards.”

During her career, Gillian also worked at other libraries in Calderdale including Walsden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.

She now plans to spend more time with her partner, Peter, including going on holiday to Goa.

Roberta Crossley, team leader for West Calderdale Libraries, has worked with Gillian for 33 years.

“It really is the end of an era,” she said. “It just will not be the same without her.

“I think a lot of people came in just to see Gillian. She lent a sympathetic ear to their trials and tribulations and they will all be sad to see her go.”

She wished Gillian every happiness for the future.